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Grazyna Bacewicz

"... one of the foremost women composers of all time."
Witold Lutoslawski


The Polish composer was born on 5 February 1909 in Lodz and died on 17 January 1969 in Warsaw. She began learning music at the age of five. After having completed her secondary education at the grammar school in Lodz, she left for Warsaw where she took up studying composition with Kazimierz Sikorski and violin playing with Jozef Jarzebski at the Warsaw Conservatory. In 1932 she graduated as a composer and a violinist.

She continued her studies in composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
After 1955 she devoted herself exclusively to composition: her most important works are 4 symphonies, 7 violin concertos, the Concerto for string orchestra, the Music for strings, trumpets and percussion, the Concerto for Orchestra, and the Musica sinfonica in tre movimenti.

Grazyna Bacewicz was awarded many foreign and national prizes, among them the Composers' Tribune of UNESCO in Paris in 1960, the highest award for Music for strings, trumpets and percussion.

Grazyna Bacewicz played a very important role in the musical life of Poland. In the final years of her life she was a professor of composition at the State Academy of Music in Warsaw. She was a member of various artistic committees and adjudicated in competitions at home and abroad. For many years until her death she was the vice-president of the Polish Composers Union.

She had a consummate knowledge of all the technical secrets of string instruments and was able to extract from them all their powers of expression. This can be seen in her cycle of seven string quartets written during the years 1938-1965. The last four pieces of that cycle constitute the crowning achievement of Polish chamber music. They represent a magnificent synthesis of the traditional formal and expressive concept of the string quartet and new ideas for technique and texture.
I am very interested in music, such as those based on Schoenbergism or the experiments with electronics, because in music, like in everything else, something new must come along from time to time. The technique itself is very important to me because it provides the necessary rigor and formal technique for the composer. Without this base, improvisation could not be created. As a drawback, I find that often the works that have been written all sound quite alike.

In the composition I am now writing the String Quartet No. 6. I want to maintain certain sections in the serial technique, but by the same token I want to give them a different character. I am not interested in pointillism because I believe the road to be too narrow, but I feel directed by the coloring in sounds and the new rhythms of electronic music.

Grazyna Bacewicz

The richness and the vastness of creativity achieved in such a short life never ceases to amaze me. There is no aspect in music that has not been enriched by her decisive, swift, courageous and experienced pen. Like the maestros of the past, Bacewicz was equally at home when creating a monumental cycle of symphonies, miniatures for instruments, chamber-music or music for the stage. The craft of music-making held no secrets for her. An inexhaustible source of inventiveness, technical virtuosity, and a wide breadth of approach suffice for placing the works of her life among those that are most admired. But that is not all. She has been given something more important, more precious, found only among the few, a gift of being different and unique.
It is these gifts which, in an age of quickly fading trends, give one the hope and expectation that Bacewicz's works will survive to be heard and appreciated by future generations.

Tadeusz Baird


book tip
NEULAND Musikverlag Herbert Henck (ed.), Bergisch Gladbach Ansätze zur Musik der Gegenwart Jahrbuch, Band 4 (1983/84).

TRO-CD 01404 - Grazyna Bacewicz - String Quartets nos. 4, 6, 7 -
Fanny Mendelssohn Quartet - 18,00 €
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TRO-CD 01418 - Melomania - String Quartets by 7 women composers - Fanny Mendelssohn Qiartet - 18,00 €
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TRO-SACD 01429 - VIOLIN SOLO Vol. 2 - Renate Eggebrecht - Sonata (1958) - 20,00 €
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TRO-SACD 01433 - VIOLIN SOLO Vol. 4 - Renate Eggebrecht - 4 Caprices - (1968) 20,00 €
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TRO-SACD 01436 - VIOLIN SOLO Vol. 5 - Renate Eggebrecht - Sonata (1941) - 20,00 €
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Grazyna Bacewicz

Grazyna Bacewicz